Timeline of Village Updates
OCT 25, 2018 Dispenziere Attempts to Mend Discord & Rescinds Support for Council Charter Change
(1) Councilor Dispenziere appeared to be the member responsible for rescinding Charter Amendment support. Councilman Epps asked for a vote to solidify the intent. Given Vandenberg's statements, she appeared to have followed Dispenziere's lead on the issue. Dispenziere's comments addressed how he hoped withdrawal of the Charter Amendment would help rebuild trust among council members and within the community.
(2) In return, Mary Shkut made a promise to Councilor Dispenziere. She promised Dispenziere she would not take advantage of an absence and attempt to appoint someone to a vacant seat, should the vacancy occur during her term. She also said she, nor any member of her family, would pursue a Quo Warranto suit against a member because the resigning officer voted on his own successor; as long as the vote was in accord with lawful processes laid out by Professor David Lawrence.
(3) Council-member Vandenberg says she intends to introduce new Charter Amendments in November.
(a) An amendment providing the Mayor the right to vote on all matters
(b) An increase to the size of the Council, to six members
(4) Councilor Dispenziere privately proposes well-thought series of Charter Amendments. The suggestions are in accord
with what other similar towns, are doing, per School of Gov't data. Dispenziere had the following suggestions:
(a) The introduction of four districts of approximately 2000 people each
(b) An increase in the Council size, to six members: four district reps and two at-large reps
(c) The Mayor would not have the ability to vote, but would have the option to break ties
OCT 13, 2018 Pollino & Vandenberg Refuse to Accept Judge's Ruling; Just As Shkut Attorney's Predicted
Joe Pollino and Kim Vandenberg refused to accept Judge Bragg's ruling (just as my attorneys predicted.) Instead, they filed a 'Motion to Reconsider' (a.k.a. a Rule 59 motion). The motion asks the Judge to reconsider his own ruling. This is rarely requested, or granted without new evidence. Moreover, case law shows Rule 59 is a post-trial motion and not permitted, since the judge's 'Motion to Dismiss' was "pre-trial".
(a) Is there new evidence for the judge to re-consider? No. The only thing 'new' is the addition of local attorneys. The one portion of this exercise that is troubling, is the Plaintiff's assertion that precious court time, and public funds should be used to find self-important answers to a self-serving political concerns. It's likely our courts have more important things to re-consider than a court ruling based on long-standing precedent and constitutional principles of due process. Here is their 'Motion to Reconsider'.
OCT 10, 2018 Update Regarding the Charter Amendment & Efforts to Keep Majority Stronghold
The Council was required to cancel the meeting of September 11, 2018 and, under public pressure, did not hold the vote on September 27th either. However, the Council majority did take action on the City Charter Amendment, which was designed to provide the Mayor with the right to vote on all matters.
(1) Village City Charter Amendment - Giving the Mayor the Ability to Vote on All Matters
The Marvin Council majority did not have the super-majority required to pass the City Charter Amendment on the first reading. Therefore, a second session must be held. However, only a simple majority will be required to pass the Charter Amendment at the next meeting. The Charter Amendment must pass, before October 30. If not, the initiative will lapse and, per NC law, the Council would need to begin the entire process over again, from the beginning.
(2) Referendum Petition: Meanwhile, a group of approximately seventeen citizens have initiated a referendum petition, and delivered 'pink petition packets' to almost every household in Marvin.
OCT 05, 2018 Judge Dismisses Pollino / Vandenberg Publicly-Funded Civil Lawsuit
The Superior Court signed an order dismissing the Quo Warranto case, against Mary Shkut. The Plaintiffs, Joe Pollino and Kim Vandenberg, can appeal the case, within 30 days. Given it would take approximately 18 months to appear on the appellate court calendar, it's unlikely an appeal will be filed, yet it is a possibility.
SEP 27, 2018 Judge Issues a Ruling in Pollino & Vandenberg Publicly-Funded Civil Lawsuit
The Superior Court judge issued his ruling on Sept 27. Because the ruling had not yet been signed, attorneys dissuaded Mary Shkut from sharing the outcome or dropping her lawsuit against the Village As soon as the order is signed, an official announcement will be released.
SEP 26, 2018 Pollino & Village Attorney Request Mary Drop Her Lawsuit/ Her Attorney's Warn Her Against It!
In an open meeting, as Village Council members were collecting responses to 'Discovery', the Mayor asks Shkut to drop her case between 2-3 times; asking why it's necessary. Shkut responds that she had planned on it, after July 30. However, her attorneys were not confident current Village officials would accept the judge's ruling. Turns out, Mary Shkut's attorneys were right!
SEP 25, 2018 Pollino & Vandenberg Publicly-Funded Civil Lawsuit, Challenging Mary's Appointment
The Superior court hears the Mary Shkut's 'Motion to Dismiss'.
SEP 10, 2018 Pollino & Vandenberg Publicly-Funded Civil Lawsuit, Challenging Mary's Appointment
Mary Shkut's attorney's filed a 'Motion to Dismiss' the Quo Warranto suit because it had not been filed within the required time, nor by the lawfully required party, pursuant to NCGS Chapter 1 and Chapter 1a.
AUG 30, 2018 Pollino & Vandenberg File Publicly-Funded Civil Lawsuit, Challenging Mary's Appointment
Quo Warranto suit was served to Mary Shkut on behalf of Joe Pollino and Kim Vandenberg, as private relators, despite the Council's vote to pursue this case on behalf of the Village. (see above) Quo Warranto is a procedure that must be filed on behalf of "private relators" and may not utilize the appropriation of "public funds". It appears Village attorneys took time to realize the civil nature of the claim.
AUG 09, 2018 City Charter Change & Other Policies Intended to Maintain Majority Strong-hold
The Council introduced policies aimed at guarding their strong-hold on the majority.
(1) A Policy Permitting Remote Votes & Comments to be Submitted in Council Meetings.
The policy would allow Council members to remotely participate and vote, in Village Council meetings, using electronic devices. This policy runs counter to what the School of Government recommends for legislative governing boards.
(2) A Policy Permitting the Use of Taxpayer Dollars for Council Legal Defense Expenditures.
The policy would permit Council members, and other officials, to use taxpayer money to fund their legal defenses. This corresponds to mistakes members of the majority made, in terms of their refusal to recognize Ms. Shkut’s appointment and their vote, upon their jurisdictional authority, to vacate her seat.
(3) A Resolution Amending the City Charter to Permit the Mayor’s Right to Vote on All Matters.
The Council passed a "Resolution of Intent' to Amend our Village City Charter. The proposed amendment would grant the Mayor the right to vote on all matters that come before the Council. Given Dispenziere's unfortunate illness, most believe this amendment is meant to secure Mayor Pollino's ability to help appoint a candidate, of his choice, to fill any Council vacancy which may occur in the near future.
AUG 06, 2018 Publicly-Funded Pollino & Vandenberg Civil Lawsuit; Challenging Mary Appointment
A representative with the Attorney General’s office informs the Village Council that public funds may not be used for counsel fees in any Quo Warranto suit. So, instead of reimbursing the Village, Pollino and Vandenberg have their names put on the public law suit (built using public funds) and file the case in civil court. Village Staff has since written that no funds have been reimbursed for the case, and staff is not expecting legal funds to be reimbursed*.
JUL 30, 2018 Council Acknowledges Vacating Mary's Office Was Unlawful & Beyond Jurisdictional Authority
The Council majority acknowledges they acted beyond their jurisdictional authority, and contrary to State law and voted to do the following :
(1) Recognized Mary Shkut as a ‘De Facto Officer’, and her placement on the Council
(2) Authorized all Village attorneys to pursue a Quo Warranto suit, upon leave of the Attorney General.
JUL 10, 2018 Council Majority Votes Beyond Jurisdictional Power to Vacate Mary's Office; Establishes Illegal Litigation Subcommittee; Hires Pollino & Vandenberg Private Attorney, as Village Attorney & Authorizes Lawsuit Challenging Mary's Appointment
The Council took many controversial action during this meeting; which was the first meeting after returning from the Village shut-down.
(1) Vote to Vacate Council Seat. The Council unlawfully voted to vacate the office which Mary Shkut occupied, all while Mary Shkut was sitting at the Council table. Knowing the Council's vote was unlawful, pursuant to N.C.G.S. §128-6 and N.C.G.S. §1-524, Mary Shkut attempted to participate in the Council meeting in order to remove controversial items from the Consent Agenda, and be sure items were openly discussed. The Council voted to have her physically removed but the deputies hesitated. The Mayor then implored the Sheriff to physically remove her from the Council seat and the deputies refused. (See the 'Meetings' tab, for a fuller account of other actions taken during this meeting.)
(2) Vote to Hire An Additional Law Firm for Litigation. The Council voted to higher an outside attorney to pursue litigation against Mary Shkut's appointment to the Village Council.
(3) Vote to Create a Litigation Sub-Committee. The Council majority voted to create a litigation subcommittee for the purpose of strategizing and pursuing a legal suit against Mary Shkut's appointment.
(4) Vote to Authorize a Law Suit Filing. The Council majority voted to authorize the Village attorney to file a lawsuit, in opposition to Mary Shkut's appointment to the Marvin Council.
JUL 01, 2018 The Village of Marvin Shuts-Down Due to Failure to Pass Budget By State Deadline
The Village of Marvin shut-down for ten days and received more negative media attention than it had in decades.
JUN 30, 2018 Council Majority Avoid Meetings and a Village Shut-Down Becomes Imminent
After four meetings were cancelled (due to lack of quorum and attendance by Mayor Pollino and Councilwoman Vandenberg) the city budget failed to pass in accord with statutory requirements. This set of meetings included a special meeting, Mary and Robert Epps scheduled for June 30, in a last effort to pass the budget, as a standalone item. Mayor Pollino and Councilwoman Vandenberg failed to attend and the Village shut-down.
JUN 22, 2018 Council Majority Is Advised of Legal Statutes Regarding Appointment, Advice is Ignored
Mary Shkut's attorneys wrote the Village Council and advised them of all relevant laws and processes related to the resignation and appointment issue. The office of Weaver, Bennett & Bland provided accurate information detailing the legal procedures and statutes the Council was obligated to follow, including the Quo Warranto writ requirements, in NCGS Chapter 1, Article 41.
JUN 07, 2018 Council Majority Claim Mary's Appointment Is Invalid & Deprive Shkut of Staff Support
Outside of an open meeting, the Council directed the Attorney and Village Staff to deprive Mary Shkut of all support, and deny any recognition of her office.
JUN 01, 2018 Mary Pleads for Reason, In Return the Council Majority Challenges Shkut's Appointment
Mary Shkut asked the Council to put dissension aside and work together. She also conveyed that, should the Council want to challenge her title, the rightful process was delineated in NCGS §128-6 and that until a court of law decided, through Quo Warranto action, she was lawfully entitled to hold her seat, pursuant to both NCGS §128-6 and NCGS §1-524.
MAY 31, 2018 Salimao Resigns Effective Upon Appointment & Oath of His Successor, per G.S. 160A-63
Councilman Ron Salimao resigned effective upon the appointment and oath of his successor. Mary Shkut was appointed to the Village Council by vote of the majority. The Mayor stated that he was opposed to the appointment and would pursue legal action to stop it. Mary Shkut swore and Oath to her duties and took her Oath of Office. It's important to note that Salimao did not vote 'after' he resigned. Instead, the Council followed a principle described in this article, written by a prominent School of Government professor. Additionally, municipal law permits holdovers in municipal office, and grants them all voting rights until a successor is appointed.